Their last release ‘Powerdose’ was one of the albums of the year on many lists when released in 2013, this hyper active speed and metal act had their eye on the prize for that one. With ‘Straight Shooter’, the energy remains the same, the music is a touch more varied, but not withstanding this, I have to say it’s a fearless album that hits hard and will do very well with the current fan base of this material.
There has been some line-up changes with a second guitarist Jaakko Heitakangas (ex-Ranger) joining the ranks. The influence of his former band can be found on a couple of tracks, namely ‘Torches Ablaze’ and ‘Serve Your Masters’, but that’s not all. Antti Salminen has moved over to bass and Markus Hietamies has moved onto drums. No it’s not rock n roll band camp, it’s a furious journey through some titanic riffs with the main emphasis being on speed, they have moved around for good reason, it works. With such speeds, that even increase part way through some of the tracks (‘Torches Ablaze’), musicianship is important. There is clarity when you listen hard and separate the instruments in your mind if you are able to do that. There is deft art of playing with smoke coming from the fretboard, the energy and you cannot take that away from this band at all. Plus with a second guitarist, the live experience will also improve so if you haven’t had chance to catch them last time they were here, do so soon, they’re coming this way after the summer.
‘Heavy Armor’ has a different lower range vocal approach, but quickly falls back to the style you are used to with this band, but as a track shows a touch more than just speed alone as an influence. The title track ‘Straight Shooter’ is a grittier rock n roll number that’s hits like The Hellacopters doing shots with Motorhead and is available as a single already.
The whole album is rather tasty, it has plenty of momentum, but I just feel that the mix could have been a bit better as a casual listener will miss some of the important sections with its overwhelming in your face right hook. But for the speed, NWOBHM and metal fans amongst you, you will raise your fist and scream with delight when you hear this album.
(8/10 Paul Maddison)